Fitting Out the Office

Startup businesses will require significant purchases of office equipment and hardware. There are many items that you will need to consider, including:

  • Computers.
  • Phones.
  • Copiers.
  • Faxes.
  • Scanners.
  • Any other equipment that is specific to your chosen business.

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It’s a common mistake to assume that because you are starting a new business you need to have new office equipment. <

Furniture auctions are an excellent way to find cheap business fittings. Government departments and businesses closing or relocating will offer office equipment at a fraction of the cost of fitting your business with brand new equipment. While this may not be the best place to find electrical equipment, it’s perfect for items such as desks, filing cabinets and book cases. Auctions are advertised in the business pages of most newspapers. <

When buying office equipment you have to be sure that you are getting the best for the business. This will not always mean that you need a top-of-the-range product, as your business may not require many of the functions that are offered. Prioritise your requirements to ensure that you can initially start your business operations, and then upgrade as it becomes necessary.

If you are can’t afford the set up costs of office equipment you can lease or make your payments in installments. Leasing will allow you to make cheaper upgrades in your equipment as the business expands. <

When purchasing this equipment always check the warranty. Does the warranty cover parts and service? How long does the warranty last?

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Computers: Desktop or laptop?

This decision must be made according to the power and portability you require.

Desktop systems will be more powerful, quicker and provide greater storage space than a laptop. Their larger screens will also reduce strain on your eyes if you are conducting much of your business from your computer.

Laptops grant you freedom of movement but they can be heavy (check the weight) and require recharging (check the battery life). Laptops can be used like desktops by connecting an external screen, keyboard and mouse.

If you decide to use a combination of both desktop and laptop computing, you may be able to negotiate a discount for buying both from the same provider.

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Computer software programs

Consider why you need the computer when making your purchase decision. Do you need a large capacity for graphics if the computer is used largely as a tool for word processing and bookkeeping? What programs are essential for your business?

Printers

Before buying a printer, decide what you’re going to use it for and how often you intend to use it.Will your printer handle all of your businesses printing needs – including promotional material and full colour printing? Or will you only be printing black and white text documents?Laser printers use dry ink and laser technology to print the image, while inkjet printers use wet ink.

Copiers

  • Does your business need a photocopier or will it be most cost effective to have copying handled by an outside provider?
  • How often will you be copying?
  • Who are copies for? Your own records or for the promotion of the business?
  • Do you need colour copying?
  • Do you need a machine that can handle double-sided copying?
  • How many separately collated documents will you need to produce at any given time?
  • Do you need a machine that can handle different sizes and weights of paper?

What copy speed will you require? If you are making copies of large numbers of pages at once, copy speed can dramatically alter the time it takes to complete the job.

Don’t forget the additional ongoing charges such as toner and maintenance. You also need to consider whether or not you will be able to print duplex, collate, and handle a variety of papers.Duplexing is the ability to print on both sides of a single piece of paper. You can do this by running the copy through twice, or you can purchase a machine that will do the work for you.

Collation involves the arrangement of copies as they are produced, and is most important for multiple-page copies.

Paper handling ability is a major consideration in a copier. Depending on your needs, you will want to make sure your copier is capable of handling a variety of paper weights, transparencies, and possibly even multiple paper supply trays.

Faxes

The type of machine you buy will be determined by the frequency of your usage. If you are regularly sending faxes you can afford to purchase a more expensive machine as the cost per fax will decrease with use.

Ask the salesperson to demonstrate the machine, checking the print quality and making sure it’s easy to use and can handle faxing several pages at once.Check to see what functions are available on the machine:

  • Are you able to broadcast pages to several recipients at once?
  • How many speed-dial numbers are you able to store?
  • How regularly will you need to replace the toner cartridge? How many pages?

Scanners

The key factor you have to consider when choosing a scanner is the resolution. The quality is rated in terms of dots per square inch (dpi).The resolution quality you need is based on the function that you require from the scanner.

  • Scanning an image at 72dpi will allow you to scan an image and view the image in its original size on your computer screen.
  • You will require at least 300dpi to be able to then print the scanned image with any clarity.
  • If you need to enlarge images after scanning you will need to be able to scan above 1200dpi.

If you want to scan transparencies (slides) or photographic negatives, you will require a scanner with a special lid that backlights the film.

A scanner that connects to your printer via a USB port will be far easier to install than other systems.

Multi-purpose machines

Printers are now available with several additional functions that can reduce your need to purchase multiple items of equipment. These machines can perform duties such as copying, printing, faxing and scanning. This all-in-one system can be useful if your business only requires limited use of each function. However, heavy use of these machines across a variety of functions will place strain on the system and they are only an option for smaller business operations.

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